Japanese Maple Acer Palmatum “Murasaki Kiyohime”

This “Murasaki Kiyohime” dwarf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) has been growing in a local nursery as a landscape tree for about 30 years, yet it is less than three-foot tall. When I first saw it, I was attracted by its potential of becoming a natural style bonsai. I asked the nursery owner for permission to prune the tree, removed cross-branches, thinned out unwanted branches so that the overall structure is more airy. The total height was also reduced so that it has a better proportion with the thickness and height of the main trunk.

The pruned tree could easily go into a pot as a bonsai anyone would be proud of. I am contented with the joy of pruning this beautiful tree, never asked if it was for sale, and would be happy that it stays in the nursery ground for everyone to enjoy. I would go back every year to prune it. Being over excited, I forgot to take a photo of the tree before pruning. The following photo was taken with my phone after the work was completed. As a landscape tree, the branches had never been wired and they fanned out naturally.


Murasaki Kiyohime Acer Palmatum after pruning. Height: about 28″ tall.

“Murasaki Kiyohime” is a dwarf Japanese maple cultivar from the “yatsubusa” group.  This is one of the few Japanese maples with very small leaves, 3-5 cm long, and is, therefore, a very desirable bonsai material.  The mature tree is only about 1 meter tall. The leaves are heavily lobed. The margins of newly emerged leaves are marked by deep purple red color, which turn green when matured.


IMG_0095-001I have a “Murasaki Kiyohime” in pot. It came from a 3 gallon nursery plant. I potted it last year and wanted to make it into a shohin.  However, the left branch is way too thick and straight. I like to put a curve near the bottom of this branch before cutting it back, or to completely remove it.  But it seems like a waste to just cut it off, I might air-layer this branch before doing something major to turn the tree into a shohin,



11 thoughts on “Japanese Maple Acer Palmatum “Murasaki Kiyohime”

  1. Fantastic tree,your hard work has paid off . Looking forward to seeing it next time I am in Houston.

    • Keith,
      Great to see youand Joyce. Hope you were not snow bound by the recent bad weather in the east coast. I will take you to this nursery in your next trip to Houston.

      • Thanks, Eldon. We can only enjoy the beauty of this tree in spring since our hot summer weather is harsh to all Japanese maples. The leaves burned in summer.

    • Hi Liijoh, you have an interesting and keen observation of this tree. This prompted me to check Valavanis’s book,”Classical Bonsai Art”, which has a lot of Japanese maple bonsai information. It says branches of this cultivar has a habit of growing horizontally; a 20 year old garden tree is only 3 foot tall but has a 6 foot spread. So growing into this fan-like structure might be natural for “kiyohime” maple. Thank you for prompting my curiosity and sorry for the late reply.

    • I saw this tree a few months ago. It was covered with leaves to a point I think it needed a “haircut”. Sorry I do not have a photo of it with fully leafed out. If I go to the nursery again, I will remember to take photos.

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